This was the year I left New York. It was also the year I learned it’s possible to read without riding the subway. Looking over the list, in 2011, I especially enjoyed being in the middle of a big book. I guess I like to spend time in a world someone else made. There are also a lot of books on this list that I didn’t really enjoy, just read. But I like reading, and when you like a verb, you do it in any form that presents itself.
® - Raronauer Recommends
* - Reread
/ - Didn’t finish
A Short History of Women /, Kate Walbert
Pale Fire, Vladmir Nabakov
I read for a book club, and I enjoyed the sausage lasagna the host served more than the book.
The Fall®*, Albert Camus
I got a lot more out of this book as a 27 year-old than I did as a 15 year-old.
For Whom The Bell Tolls®*, Ernest Hemingway
And so began Hemingway month!
A Moveable Feast®, Ernest Hemingway
I bought this book for myself, retail, as a reward for doing a job I didn’t want to do but couldn’t turn down. It was a great way to treat myself.
The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Ernest Hemingway
A Visit From The Goon Squad*, Jennifer Egan
Just Kids by Patti Smith
A Family Daughter by Maile Meloy
This list includes all the books I read straight through, or at least tried to, this year. But I came back to specific stories by Maile Meloy throughout the year, specifically, “Agustin,” “Garrison Junction” and “The Children.”
The Nick Adams Stories, Ernest Hemingway
Bearing the Body, Ehud Havazelet
Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi
The Art of Racing in the Rain /, Garth Stein
I couldn’t finish this book narrated by a dog, but one of my friends from book club actually liked it. I think that speaks to how much she likes reading.
Miami®, Joan Didion
Despite being the fifth location of the Real World, by city limits, it’s actually pretty small. Didion, as always, does a deft job of explaining why Miami has taken on such international and cultural importance. If you ever want to go beyond the “I sort of know there’s a situation with Cuba” understanding of Miami, I recommend this book. I also recommend this twitter feed.
Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee
After I got a fight with someone I was dating about Livestrong bracelets, I put this book on reserve at the library. Soon after the book was available, it won the Pultizer, and I felt I had to read it. Not an uplifting situation.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love®, Raymond Carver
Some credit goes to Gordon Lish.
The Devil in the White City, Erik Larson
Another story about a failed attempt to start a book club.
Cooking for Mr. Latte®, Amanda Hesser
If you like reading about rich white people eating–which is a real thing to like!–this is the book for you.
Heartburn, Nora Ephron
The Custom of the Country®, Edith Wharton
The Keep, Jennifer Egan
Great Plains®, Ian Frazier
The Heart Says Whatever, Emily Gould
Civilwarland in Bad Decline, George Saunders
The Collected Stories of Grace Palely, Grace Palely
The Good Soldiers®, David Finkel
Revolutionary Road®, Richard Yates
The Rez, Ian Frazier
I found this at a used bookstore in Rapid City, SD on the road with my friend who had lent me The Great Plains. We read it to each other as we finished driving across the country.
The John McPhee Reader®, John McPhee
The Loser, Thomas Bernhard
The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion
You can’t appreciate this book without having read other Joan Didion, which I learned first hand after rereading this book.
A Visit from the Goon Squad®*, Jennifer Egan
Not a typo, I read it twice in one year.
Notes on Yellowstone, Jim Carrier
A Backwards Glance, Edith Wharton
Bright Lights, Big City, Jay McInerney
I read this book in a day. I still don’t recommend it.
Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves, P. G. Wodehouse
1Q84®, Haruki Murakami
Emma, Jane Austen
Food Matters®, Mark Bittman
Samedi the Deafness, Jesse Ball
Let the Great World Spin, Colum McCann